The online journal of Luke Dockery

Tag: New Year’s (Page 1 of 2)

Spiritual Growth in the New Year

The beginning of a new year is a natural time for people to make goals and resolutions, and I think this is a good and healthy practice. If you are a resolution-making type of person, I hope you have included some spiritual goals in your plans for self-improvement in 2020. Briefly, I wanted to point you to a few resources that I have used or am currently using to help with my own spiritual growth this year.

Bible Reading

Making a habitual practice of reading Scripture is a tried and true method of spiritual growth. Of course, Christians do not read the Bible just for information, but for transformation: God’s Spirit works within us to bring about His fruit in our lives.

This is the Bible Study Plan that we are using in 2020 at the Cloverdale Church of Christ. It only a few minutes of time each day, but by the end of the year, it will take you through the entire New Testament. This plan encourages you to find a partner with whom you will spend time each week discussing and reflecting on what you have read.

The Read Scripture app is another great way to develop the practice of reading your Bible daily. This can all be done on your phone, and in addition to providing a reading plan and the text of Scripture itself, it also includes awesome videos from The Bible Project that help to overview and explain each biblical book as well as other important biblical concepts. This is a really great tool for helping to increase your understanding of Scripture.

Prayer

Prayer is another incredibly important practice for people of faith. Speaking for myself, I struggle with doing as well at prayer as I do reading my Bible, and this is a growth area that I am trying to emphasize in 2020.

Prayer, In Practice is a really good and practical resource that I read through at the end of last year that I am planning to use heavily in the new year. It is a workbook that teaches different ideas and methods of prayer and then has you do those, right then. I highly recommend it.

Biblical Worldview

This last category may sound strange compared to the other two, but the basic point is this: in our current day and age, we are constantly bombarded by messages from TV, social media, print media, and other sources. We are “plugged in” almost all the time. The vast majority of these messages are not from a biblical worldview, and rather than filling us with the peace that passes understanding, they fill us with fear, anxiety, and outrage.

I have become personally convinced that I need to be careful about the content of the messages I am taking in. The reality is that I am not a hermit and cannot cut everything negative out, but I can intentionally take in as much edifying, helpful, and faith-strengthening content that I can. Part of that is accomplished by reading Scripture, but finding helpful things to listen to while I drive or exercise has been a huge blessing for me, and I want to recommend two podcasts that I think you will find interesting and which will certainly help to keep you centered on a biblical worldview.

The Bible Project Podcast has been a game-changer for me. Tim Mackie has become one of my favorite biblical scholars, and I learn so much from the podcasts and videos. The general format of these is that they will tackle a biblical topic in several parts, but will focus specifically on what the Bible teaches, the important cultural and historical contexts of the teaching, and how these teachings affect our lives.

I started listening to the After Class Podcast more recently, but have really enjoyed it so far. Put out by three professors at Great Lakes Christian College (and thus, my Restoration Movement cousins), these guys bring a lot of biblical knowledge, a generous spirit of dialogue, and a lot of playful banter to the table. Their podcast tends to be topical as well, and they generally discuss the different issues from their own scholarly backgrounds (in Hebrew Bible, New Testament, and theology).

It is such a worthwhile practice to reflect on ways we need to improve in our lives and make plans to do so, and this is especially true when it comes to our lives as disciples of Jesus. May 2020 be a year of rich spiritual blessings for you.

For the Coming Year, “Make No Small Plans”

Daniel Burnham was a well-known and accomplished 19th-century architect. Among other things, he was famous for designing the Flatiron building in New York City, and the buildings for the World’s Fair held in Chicago in 1893 (his work on that project is described in detail in the excellent The Devil in the White City).

As evidenced by his impressive accomplishments, Burnham was a dreamer (you don’t accomplish as much as he did without being one). The following Burnham quotation, which I love, reflects that quality:

“Make no small plans. They have no magic to stir humanity’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work…. Remember that our sons and daughters are going to do things that will stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon, beauty. Think big.”

(Quoted in Almost Christian, by Kenda Creasy Dean, p. 192)

Another year has passed, and it is time to look ahead to 2014. As you make plans and resolutions for the new year, and Christians, as you reflect on your role in God’s Kingdom, make no small plans. Aim high in hope and work. Think big!

Satchel Paige’s Rules For Staying Young

As the new year dawns I thought it might be appropriate to pass on some morsels of wisdom from Satchel Paige.

Paige is widely regarded as the greatest Negro Leagues pitcher of all time, and might have proven to be the greatest pitcher of all time period had he been allowed to pitch in the Major Leagues while he was still in his prime. Regardless of this, it’s probably safe to say that he was one of the top five pitchers in history, and as someone who pitched professionally into his 50s, is probably qualified to give the following advice:

Rules for Staying Young


1. Avoid fried meats which angry up the blood.

2. If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.
3. Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move.
4. Go very light on the vices, such an carrying on in society—the social ramble ain’t restful.
5. Avoid running at all times.
6. And don’t look back—something might be gaining on you.

I’m not sure about number 5, but the rest sure sound pretty good.

How I Did In 2008

Just over a year ago, at the start of 2008, I did something and made a list of New Year’s resolutions for The Doc File. With 2008 being completed, I guess now is a good time to go back and give the list a glance-over to see how well I did:

1. Blog on a more regular basis. Specifically, I mentioned that I’d like to blog three times a week. That would come out to roughly 150 posts in a year, and last year, I posted 100 times exactly.

Verdict: 2/3 Success. I’ll renew this resolution for 2009.

2. Blog with more balance. With this resolution, I was decrying the tendency I have to get into ruts when I blog and I even suggested dedicating certain days to certain types of posts.

Verdict: Failure, but I’ve also decided it was a stupid resolution. I’ll try to balance out topics as much as possible, but I’m not going to not post something just because it’s on a similar topic to a recent post.

3. When you start a “series,” finish it. Looking back, it seems like I did continue to struggle with some series, but I did finally bring the abortion series to a conclusion, and I was pleased with that.

Verdict: Partial Success. Still room for improvement.

4. Do a better job responding to comments. I think I responded to virtually all of my commenters in 2008, and I think I generally did so in a timely fashion (sometimes comments were sent to my Bulk mail folder, and I didn’t become aware of them at first).

Verdict: Success. I’ll try for more of the same in 2009.

Summary:
Out of four resolutions, it looks like I successfully followed through with about 2 1/2, which comes out to roughly 63%. That’s not so good on a report card, or as a slogan either (“63% Successful Since 2008!”), but I guess I’ll take it.

…And In With The New


A new year is here, which, among other things means that there have been a lot of people out walking and running, trying to get in shape as part of their New Year’s Resolutions.

I think New Year’s Resolutions tend to get a bad rap, often because people don’t take them seriously and fail to live up to them past January or so. But make no mistake—there’s nothing wrong with trying to improve yourself, and I think it’s admirable to do so.

Although I haven’t written a formal list, I do have some areas that I want to improve on this year. Some I don’t have complete control over (I’d really like to avoid any hospital stays or car accidents this year), while others are pretty much up to me (I want to exercise more and get in shape, and also spend more time reading, both Scripture and just in general).

However, my resolutions aren’t limited to me personally; there are some for The Doc File as well:

1. Blog on a more regular basis.

Clearly, I’m off to a poor start on this one.

When I first started this blog, I only posted when I had something to say that I thought was deep or really worthwhile. The problem with this was that it meant that I only posted a couple of times each month. Since then, I’ve improved the frequency of my blogging (by writing a lot of things that, whatever they may be, are certainly not deep and probably not all that worthwhile either), but I’ve still been wildly inconsistent about this.

I really don’t think I’m a blog everyday type of guy (at least not yet), but my goal for 2008 will be to write three days a week. We’ll see how it goes.

2. Blog with more balance.

I write about a lot of different stuff. That’s okay, because a lot of different subjects interest me, and my half-dozen semi-regular readers have wildly varied interests. That being said, I tend to get in ruts when I blog—I’ll have three or four posts about sports, then some posts about theology or religion, then several completely random posts that have nothing to do with anything. Instead, I’d like to be a little more structured. Maybe I’ll post about certain things on certain days. I don’t know yet.

3. When you start a “series,” finish it.

This one is pretty self-explanatory. I have a couple of “series” that aren’t really “series” at all because they are comprised of a single, solitary post. This is annoying.

4. Do a better job responding to comments.

It’s not like I’m getting dozens of comments for each post, so there’s really no reason for it to take me a week to respond to a comment sometimes.

There are probably more goals that I could/should make, but I’ve already published four in black and white, and really, that’s intimidating enough. I’ll just start with these.

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